At least 37 dead, including five family members, in Algerian wildfires

ALGIERS, Algeria – At least 37 people have been killed and 161 injured in wildfires raging in the forests of eastern Algeria, the North African country’s civil protection agency said Thursday.

Most of the casualties were reported in Wilaya, El Talf, near the border of northern Algeria and Tunisia, or in the area, where 34 people were found dead. The dead included a family of five found in their home and eight people in a public bus whose driver was startled by flames while traveling through mountainous terrain.

“Most of El Tarf’s victims are vacationers who have come to enjoy the paradisiacal beaches and enchanting scenery,” said Prime Minister Aymen Benabderaman.

He and several government officials arrived in El Tarf on Thursday. The prime minister said the Algerian government would support the victims’ families and pay compensation for the restoration work and the loss of livestock and beehives. The area is also known for agriculture.

One person died in Souq Arras, south of El Tarf. Two people were also killed in the Setif region, about 300 kilometers (185 miles) east of Algiers, the capital of the North African country.

Firefighters from other areas have been dispatched to help fight the fire, according to civil protection agencies.

A call for solidarity was posted on social media along with an appeal for help. “We need everything,” Yacine Bensalem, deputy chairman of the regional council, told The Associated Press, specifically giving a list of ventilators, medicines, bandages and sheets. rice field.

I saw a line of trucks carrying food, water, blankets and clothes heading towards El Talf. Bensalem said a crisis response unit was set up to oversee the donations.

Algeria’s Interior Minister Kamel Berjoud said 39 fires broke out in 14 areas on Wednesday alone, with 3,200 hectares (more than 12 square miles) of forest and shrub destroyed by fires since the beginning of August. .

Officials said a commission had been set up to investigate the cause of the wildfires.

In a message of condolences, President Abdelmadjid Tebboune expressed solidarity with the victims. He said Algeria will use “all human and material resources” to deal with the fires and that the families of those who died or whose homes were affected “will receive compensation”.

Massive wildfires raged in Algeria last year, killing 104 people, including 33 soldiers. In mid-June, Algerian authorities rented him a firefighting aircraft from Russia for three months.

Associated Press